It's been a bit quiet on the football front in recent days, so it's good to come back to the blog with some pretty earth-shattering news. For lovers of Cambodian football that is. Okay, so earth-shattering may be a little too much but for me personally, it feels like someone has at last seen the light and unscrewed their head from the dark place that it's been resting for the last couple of years. The Super 4 play-offs in the Metfone Cambodian League have been abolished, ahead of the upcoming 2014 season. In its place will be a straight, first past the post league competition, that reverts Cambodian football back to real football and away from the mickey mouse stuff that has decided the championship in recent times. It's the best news for all traditionalists and football purists like myself. Thumbs up to the football federation. I may be their biggest critic but credit where it's due. The news was announced in a club manager's meeting earlier today, alongwith some other very interesting snippets.
The next bombshell from the federation, is that the ten-club league championship will be extended to 11 clubs when it begins again in January. But wait for it...the newcomers will be from Japan, in the shape of Albirex Niigata FC. What, how, why, I hear you cry! The federation have been cuddling up to the Japanese FA in recent months and this is the brand new baby that has been delivered from that close union. No need to qualify or any such nonsense, a free pass straight into the MCL. Albirex Niigata already operate two teams, their main act is in the J-League Division 1 but they also have a team, doing very well I might add, in the Singapore League as well. This will be a further extension of the AN franchise. The federation are hoping this will add a real buzz to the C-League, improve spectator interest, with the new club playing Japanese players, bringing a new style of football playing, coaching and management to Cambodian football and effectively giving the league a veritable kick up the arse. It's a bold move that has paid off in Singapore and the federation hope it will have the same effect here. We shall see, but if you don't try, you don't know.
As if those two announcements weren't enough, there is more. The federation have confirmed they want to start home and away fixtures from January, though they appreciate this will be limited because of the timeframe to put this into place. But they are keen for clubs to work towards this goal and keen to get it off the ground. It's known that PPCFC, Boeung Ket and Svay Rieng are taking measures to follow the federation's lead, whilst the Army already have their own stadium. With the play-offs abolished, the federation want to introduce an end of season cup competition in its place. The FFC Cup will likely involve the top four finishers in the championship race playing-off for this new cup to add a bit of spice to the end of the campaign, as well as a couple of extra matches. The teams below haven't been forgotten either and they will play-off for the FFC Challenge Cup under the same format. Last but not least, the season's calendar will change after the 2014 season comes to an end in July. Next year, the C-League will begin again soon after, in October (2014) and run through til May, with the Hun Sen Cup acting as a mid-season competition in December-January time. The reason for this change has yet to be explained but avoiding the heavy rains might be the prompt they needed. So there you have it, the federation have made some sweeping changes to the Metfone C-League that is looming large on the horizon and all in all, they look like an interesting mix.